Is a school vision screening just as effective as a full eye examination by a doctor?
Vision screenings at your pediatrician or school are useful to pick up gross problems, but they do not take the place of full eye exams. A study that was funded by the National Eye Institute and was published in the April 2004 issue of Ophthalmology found that 36-39% of preschool children with one of the targeted vision disorders was missed.
The requirements for grade school vision screenings consist of testing the distance visual acuity. Even near vision, which is a critical component in learning, is sometimes not tested. Farsightedness can easily be missed. Many other important tests especially for the at-risk students are left out. Thus it is very important to have a full eye examination at least before kindergarten.
How do you test an infant or toddler that can not talk?
We have many tests that look at their prescription, eye alignment, basic visual acuity, eye health, focusing and tracking. One test for infants involves two cards. There are black and white stripes on one card and only a gray color on the other. Babies tend to look at the more interesting target (the stripes) and will do so if they can see them. The size of the stripe-pattern is varied to help determine how well they can see with each eye.
Another example is a test for a two year old. We use the Lea chart, which has simple pictures of a house, heart, square and circle. When they are presented, the child points to a card that matches the shape they see.
My child is struggling in school but his last eye doctor said his eyes are fine. Was something missed?
Unfortunately all examinations are not created equal. Most exams include eye clarity, eye health and gross eye alignment. Other tests that are equally important will look at fine eye alignment, depth perception, color vision, eye tracking and focusing.
These additional tests can help determine if vision is a component in a child’s learning struggles. If these tests are not performed, visual problems can be overlooked leading to frustration for the child and the teacher.
My child can see airplanes and street signs that I can’t see. Does he still need an examination?
Yes! This shows that the child can see well at a distance out of at least one eye. The other eye may be very blurred and the child will not complain because they are unaware. Children can have double or blurred vision with reading and not complain because it has always been that way. They believe that everyone sees the way they do and that their vision is normal, even when it is not.